Keeping a work journal is something I only recently started doing (because previously it would have been totally useless, the equivalent of writing what I had for lunch each day). However, I found it enormously helpful already.

Okay, don’t be so quick to judge this. I’m NOT saying you should write about your feelings at lunchtime. Think of a work journal as a log you keep of all your work – not every minor task (because who has time for that?) but every major task or project you are working or/finished working on.

How to keep a work journal

  1. Create an Excel spreadsheet for your work journal or log. Once you start working on a project, fill out the date and project name.
  2. Create fields on the spreadsheet for the project name, completion date, facets of the project, output and outcomes, and a field for notes.
  3. Keep the journal updated – log major setbacks or advances in the project (with their dates) as they happen.
  4. Once the project is completed, fill out all remaining fields – outputs, outcomes and additional notes.

It sounds really simple, and it is. But the impact it can make in the future, can be much bigger.

Why keeping a journal is important

  1. Keeping a work journal, even a simple one, can be very valuable. For one, it makes you look like a corporate badass if you can refer back to it at any time and cite the exact date and outcomes of specific projects when they ask.
  2. It also comes in very handy when it’s time to update that CV. While everyone stresses the importance of keeping your CV updated in case you forget your important achievements (even though nobody actually does this – it’s a lot of effort!), your work journal will make it insanely easy to update your CV when the time comes – you will see at a glance what important projects you successfully completed, what outputs it delivered, what skills you used to achieve the outcomes – all ready to be typed over to your CV.
  3. When the times comes to ask for a raise or promotion, your journal can be used as evidence – letting your work speak for itself.
  4. You can look over it an feel like a boss. Having concrete proof of your achievements gives you that extra motivation when you feel like your career might be flatlining, and looking back over your success allows you celebrate all your small victories.
  5. It helps you see The Big Picture. Looking over your journal you can see a trajectory and use it as a map for where your career is going. You might see interesting tendencies, where you realise you spend more time on projects for other departments than for your own. If you enjoyed doing those projects, it may be time for you to consider a change in career, or you might identify it as the reason your own projects have suffered negligence.

For more benefits and tips on how to keep a work journal, read The Benefits of Keeping a Work Journal on Career Contessa.